Monday: 29.December.2003

The Last Samurai & Native American Indians

Took the kids to see The Last Samurai last night. I liked it. A lot. Enough to add it to my official Recommended list. The theater was packed. In fact, we had to wait and see a later show, cuz the one we planned to see was sold out.

Stars Tom Cruise. I thought he was washed-up after his last few performances, most notably the one he gave in the horrible Vanilla Sky. But he makes a strong come-back as The Last Samurai. It's certainly possible that *anyone* would have succeeded in this film, since the story is so strong. But Cruise fits the part nicely.

Gorgeous scenery. Caught myself muttering, "Wow," a few times. Several parts threatened to wax corny, but segued away nicely with each of these scenes ending cleanly. Only the ending wallowed in sentimentalism. But that is probably where that kind of thing needs to happen.

Rich characters. Many thought-provoking lines. My favorite was: "A man does what he can until his destiny is revealed." Another was: "Too many minds," referring to the need for single-minded concentration.

Interesting how the story compares the Samurai of Japan with the Native American Indian. Both embraced values of courage, loyalty & honor. And both were mercilessly slaughtered by superior technology and political greed.

Speaking of the Native American Indian, I've been watching the Ken Burns specials on how the West was won (PBS), which shows how the Native American Indian got screwed royally.

They were a beautiful people. European settlers (invaders) stole their land and nearly wiped them from the face of the earth - like they did the buffalo, *millions* of them. All my life I've watched John Wayne on Hollywood TV fighting "savages".

The truth, I'm sad to say, is closer to the opposite. I found the Burns' documentary so disturbing that I had to change the channel. Couldn't bear to watch anymore. Too depressing. It's an unsettling feeling when long-standing beliefs are shattered before your eyes. I'll never be able to watch another Western. So now we throw them a few casinos & want to call it even.

I spent a year in Idaho, where I was surprised to learn that many of the Indians living there were drunks. We would see them staggering down the street all hours of the day, even in the morning. Makes more sense now. They were probably trying to numb the pain passed down thru several generations. In fact, TODAY is the anniversary of the massacre at wounded knee (they slaughtered unarmed women & children, not a very noble thing to do).

In The Last Samurai, Cruise plays a war hero who fought at Little Big Horn with Custer, a man famous for slaughtering Native America Indians. Anyway, the film was most enjoyable. But remember: the key word in the title is *LAST*. So that should give you some idea of how it ends. Not pretty. But, at least I didn't have to walk out mid-movie.

Long film: 2 hours. Didn't seem long, tho, cuz the story moves right along. Surprisingly, there was no ongoing love/romantic interest on the side. But this worked. I hate when movies try to cover too many bases and wind up doing nothing well. Good use of humor. I laughed out loud several times. Altho, admittedly, I have a warped sense of humor. Reviews ala Rotten Tomatoes can be found here.





Posted by Rad at December 29, 2003 01:01 AM

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